WASHINGTON, D.C. – North Carolina Congressman Richard Hudson usually stays on the right side of issues, even as he cozies up to the Establishment in the Swamp. A story broke Wednesday, though, that reveals Hudson submitted a budget amendment that pulled funding for a new parachute system for our Nation’s finest after the existing system was found to be faulty and dangerous. Then a Marine Paratrooper died when his parachute system malfunctioned during a training event.
In late January, a Marine Reconnaissance Scout died in a multi-mission parachute training accident in Coolidge, Arizona.
“Alex was one in a million. Always had a smile on his face,” said Noelia Davis, the fallen Marine’s cousin.
According to the U.S. Marine Corps Training Command, Cpl. Alejandro “Alex” Romero, 22, died after a “double-bag static line parachute mishap.”
Romero served with Bravo Company, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, and in the III Marine Expeditionary Force based in Okinawa, Japan.
The Marine Corps has suspended all double-bag static line parachuting operations indefinitely, according to the U.S. Marine Corps Training Command.
“Alex was a great person who would give you his last dollar so you could eat,” said Davis. “He was a person who saw the good in all people, and would go the extra mile for others, from spending time with them to saying a prayer for them.”
Congress passed the HR 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in December. It was sponsored in the House of Representatives by Rep. Mac Thornberry, (R.-Tx.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
The Act included a provision that denied funding for new Marine Corps and Army parachuting equipment until the Secretary of the Navy could provide certification proving that new equipment was necessary.
Thornberry’s office refused comment on the obstruction of funding.
Claude H. Chafin, Communications Director for the House Armed Services Committee told Big League Politics that the amendment was offered by Rep. Richard Hudson (R.-NC.) on the House Floor.
“Members are concerned that the two services are not coordinating the purchase of the [parachute] systems as well as they could, and have not fully justified the need for this particular design of parachute,” Chafin said.
Big League Politics spoke with Hudson’s office and asked why he blocked funding for the new equipment.
“He didn’t,” said Tatum Gibson, Communications Director for Hudson.
Actually, he did. Hudson’s office has framed the amendment as protecting taxpayers by making sure the Department of Defense was not unnecessarily wasting money, requesting a review before replacing the parachute equipment.
But why would Hudson, a purported champion of the armed services and whose district contains lots of veterans, proactively intervene to stop this budget item when it concerned the safety of our soldiers?
The real questions are not whether or not the congressman thought he was protecting taxpayer money. Instead, the questions that should be asked are: Who was in his ear to suggest he block the new funding for a new system? Who currently has the contract for the allegedly faulty parachute systems? Were those special interests lobbying Hudson to pull the funding/replacement provision? Was Hudson a sucker for cronyism that indirectly led to the death of a Marine?
Hudson’s office is not taking the media attention on this story lightly. His office even changed his Twitter handle after it was listed in Big League Politics’ story, to avoid facing a Twitter storm.
The people, and especially this Marine’s family, deserve more answers about exactly why this funding was pulled, what went on behind the scenes, and why we are still using these systems if they are so unsafe?
Read more here.